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Garden Fresh Pizza Sauce From Scratch

Some time ago, I managed a popular pizza parlor. One of the biggest reasons it was so well liked by so many people was because almost everything was made fresh, daily. That included the pizza shells and the sauce. That is a ‘not-so-secret’ of most of the very best pizza parlors everywhere.

The reasoning is quite simple. No matter what toppings you put on your pizza, the pizza will never be better than the dough and pizza sauce it is made with. This is also why store-bought, pre-packaged pizzas never come close to the flavor of a pizza parlor pizza.

The following recipe uses fresh garden ingredients, though they can be purchased at the store if you don’t have a garden. This makes a lot of sauce, so there is enough to home-can. Since the ingredients are fresh, the canned result also tastes much fresher than what is sold in stores and it is healthier, too.

You can also make a correspondingly smaller amount of the sauce if you only want enough for a couple of large pizzas. Incidentally, this sauce is also excellent as a base for spaghetti sauce and I’ve used it in chili sauce.

Although not absolutely necessary, I usually skin the tomatoes. This is very easy to do. Simply get a pot of water boiling and put a couple of tomatoes at a time into the boiling water. Let them boil for about a minute, then put them into ice water for a minute or so. The skins should slip right off.

Pizza sauce ingredients:

  • 10 pounds tomatoes; pulpy tomatoes like Roma tomatoes preferred
  • 4 large onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons minced or crushed garlic
  • 3 tablespoon fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoon fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Pizza sauce instructions:

* The more of the ingredients that are fresh, the better.Β 

1. In a deep frying pan, cook the onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium until the onions are getting translucent and soft. This takes about five minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes, chopped, then add the brown sugar and lemon juice. Stir well, then reduce the heat to a simmer.

3. Cook, uncovered, stirring frequently until the tomato sauce is thickened. This takes about an hour or so.

4. Add the herbs, stir well, and allow the sauce to cook for an additional minute or two.

Note: Heat destroys the volatile oils that give herbs their aroma and flavor, so they should be added near the end of the cooking time. This way, the sauce retains the most flavor possible. Basil is especially heat sensitive. This is, in fact, a secret to fantastic sauces.

To home can the sauce:

1. Pour the sauce into clean, sterilized half-pint or pint jars, leaving a 1/2 inch head space.

2. Wipe the rim of the jars with a clean, damp cloth.

3. Put the lids on the jars and put on the rings, tightening only hand tight. If you tighten them too much, you’ll have difficulty getting them off later.

4. Put the jars in a boiling water bath so the water is about an inch above the tops of the jars. Allow them to process in the boiling water for 15 minutes, then remove and place the jars on a towel on a counter, to cool.

5. The jars should ‘pop’ when they seal. When they are cooled to room temperature, press down on the center of each lid. If it has properly sealed, it shouldn’t give. If it does, refrigerate the unsealed sauce and use it within a day or so.

Tip: It is a good idea to loosen or remove the rings after the sauce has cooled and the jars have been checked for a seal. If the rings are left on the jars and are tight, they can become progressively difficult to remove after they’ve been stored for a while.

A half-pint of this sauce should be plenty for a large pizza. We usually make pizzas two at a time, so most of the sauce we make and can are put into pint jars.

Written by Rex Trulove

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36 Comments

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    • I love good pizza and I’m thankful that it isn’t difficult to make. Typically, though, I overload my pizza’s with toppings. One of the pizzas I used to make, which ended up being dubbed the “Rex Special”, was a 20-inch pizza with over two pounds of toppings. It had ground beef, sausage, mushrooms, onions, black olives, cracked shrimp, Canadian bacon, pineapple, shaved linguica sausage, tomatoes, and extra cheese. When I’d make it for my family of four, there were always leftovers. lol Naturally, it wasn’t a menu pizza…we would have lost money on it.

    • The parlor I managed was a franchise chain called Abby’s. On an average day, we made about 450 pizzas. This was in a town of about 10,000 people, which had maybe one or two dozen other pizza parlors. Most of the others didn’t use fresh stuff, though, and I think that only two or three others made their own dough and sauce. We were sticklers about ‘fresh’. Any pizza dough left over at the end of the day was thrown away.

      • I used to work for Deepizza Delivery which opened in February 1986 and closed in the summer of that same year. Then I went to work for Domino’s Pizza from August 1986 to August 2005 when Hurricane Katrina flooded the New Orleans area.

    • I’m rather surprised. I’d think that you’d be among the first to embrace homemade sauce since you control exactly what goes into it and can also make sure that it has no preservatives or inedible stuff like silicon dioxide (sand, a common ingredient in store-bought foods and sauces.)

        • Pizza sauce isn’t a lot more than tomato sauce. Just put the herbs I list above into tomato sauce, add a small amount of sugar and olive oil and you have the base for store-bought pizza sauce. Most often, they use corn syrup rather than sugar, but it amounts to the same thing. The recipe I have here merely starts from scratch, rather than from canned tomato sauce.

    • You definitely aren’t alone. I don’t recall what the number is, but most people would be astounded by the number of pre-made and pizza parlor pizzas that are sold every year. That doesn’t even count homemade.

    • I agree, Doc. There is little doubt that pizza is the favorite dish for most Americans and it is loved in most other countries, too. A good sauce can make the difference between a great pizza and one that is barely edible.

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